There is a joke in an old Garfield cartoon strip where Jon, the owner of the challenging cat, mentions that while people say having pets makes you live longer, in fact, it actually just seems longer.

Having said that, there are a lot of people who genuinely believe that owning pets is beneficial to one’s health. People who credit their pets with aiding them in recovery from illness, helping them through difficult times and making them feel better just by being around. It would appear that there may actually be a bit of science behind the anecdotes.

Here are just a few reasons why cats and dogs may, in fact, be more than just furry companions.

Taking care of yourself

Our pets rely on us. Even cats, who can often seem aloof and incurably independent, look to their owners for food and shelter. Knowing there is a living creature that would suffer without our regular care and intervention is a huge motivation to make sure we are able to live up to their expectations, and it is fair to say that they have some pretty high expectations! Simply having them around, therefore, can help us make the best decisions about our own lifestyles. So as you deflea the dog, make sure the cat comes in when it rains and buy them both the best quality food that money can buy, on some level you will almost certainly also be making sure that you too have a certain quality of life so you can continue to provide them with the same.

Get some exercise

Perhaps this is one is more relevant to dog owners than cat owners because owning a dog means getting out and about into the great outdoors, whatever the weather, at least a few times a day. There are certain breeds of dog who require some pretty special exercise as well, and their owners often find that big chunks of their weekends can be taken up with long walks in the country. This sort of gentle, and occasionally not so gentle, cardiovascular exercise is good for the heart, lungs and muscles. Plus, getting out into the fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul. True, it is not always in the sunshine but put it this way; there are very few more compelling reasons for exercise in the freezing rain than a dog who needs a walk.

Someone to talk to

It is not all about physical health either. Pets are companions whose very presence can have a hugely positive effect on your psychological wellbeing. They may not be able to talk back but they are great listeners, and it has been shown time and again that sitting down and stroking a dog or a cat can have a beneficial impact on things like high blood pressure and depression. Given this, perhaps it is not surprising that there are charities which specialise in arranging visits by dogs and cats to old peoples’ homes and hospitals.

So there you have it. Your four-legged friend whom you love so much may be paying you back in more ways than you, or indeed they, realise.

There’s no denying it; running a small business can be extremely hard. With large corporations stealing the limelight and often being so well known that local companies can’t compete. As a result attracting customers can be difficult; however, there are ways that small firms can stand out from the crowd whilst minimising their expenses at the same time.

When it comes to capital, it’s normally true that the smaller the business, the less cash they have free to invest. In such a scenario, taking careful control of cash flow is vital, and with financial reserves being far smaller than the competition, it only takes a small knock to push a local firm under. This is why taking advantage of outsourcers can be extremely beneficial.

Instead of hiring permanent staff, a process that is costly both in the short and longer terms, expertly skilled professionals can be used on an ad-hoc basis. This provides the ideal way for businesses to get their hands on talented individuals without breaking the bank. For example, invoicing and tax returns can take up an extraordinary amount of time for small firms. Turning to a reliable umbrella company provides a way for businesses to spend time on growing their brand and consumer base instead of becoming too involved in backroom tasks. Likewise, help can be found with recruiting and customer services too, allowing a local company to focus on their core business challenges.

Though it can be difficult to survive against competitors, small businesses can actually make their reduced business size a positive strength. Larger corporations often find it hard to fast-track company changes, and tend to be less flexible than smaller firms. For the local producer, listening to customers and specifically targeting niche markets is ideal. Riverford, a company famous for their organically grown vegetable boxes, started out locally in Devon. Being a start-up, able to cater to local’s needs and being small enough to make rapid company changes meant the company could expand to become the iconic British firm it is today.

One thing that all start-up companies and small businesses should do is to create a contingency plan. The lack of resources means that the slightest problem can have a significant effect on a business. What if the main customers suddenly decide to go to a competitor? What if the office burned down? Luckily, little companies are able to react to problems quicker than global enterprises and, as long as a contingency’s in place, there’s no reason for failure to occur. However, executives must keep their wits about them and identify key problems as soon as they arise, such as, for example, a customer not paying their bills.

It can be tough for small businesses to thrive, particularly when they’re trying to make a mark against multi-million pound companies. However, firms can use their small stature to their advantage by carving out a niche for themselves and reacting quickly to consumer demand. Utilising outsourcers and expert contractors can certainly keep company expenses to a minimum. 

The online marketing world is as changeable as ever. Every year, there are a host of new user preferences and new trends in the sector.  Some of these are quickly adopted, whilst others fall away. The first adopters of influential marketing techniques end up gaining an advantage on the competition or further improving their status as leaders in their niche. This is why marketers are constantly searching for new trends and edges as the years roll by.  So… What are the trends that will dominate 2016 then?

Wearable tech will grow even further

Wearable smart devices have grown in popularity over the last few years and 2016 will see them become more mainstream than ever. The Apple Watch dominated the headlines this year but other gadgets are expected to arrive next year. With them, the line between online marketing and real marketing will become even narrower.

Increased popularity for video ads

Video ads are not new.  Facebook, Bing and YouTube have been serving them for years now. However, 2016 is poised to be the year when video ads will be seen on Google’s SERP. Users have become more accepting of video ads and as the acceptance continues to grow, video ads will gradually begin to pop up in more locations.

Explosion of mobile apps

2016 is expected to be a year where more business owners will realise the distinct benefits of having a mobile app. Google has offered app indexing for some time now but the ranking possibilities are just becoming more complex.  A site with a fully optimised mobile site is great for user experience but apps will soon replace them. Apps can do everything you’d expect from a mobile site but they are more convenient, more intuitive and more accessible. Many businesses, including e-commerce sites and new bingo sites launching in 2016 are expected to add apps to their portfolio.  Apps will not replace websites completely anytime soon but 2016 could prove vital for app adoption in business.  Should you be focusing on Android or iPhone apps, or both? This article will help you choose.

Rise of Virtual Assistant optimisation

When it comes to getting your site to be seen by thousands of new visitors, Search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising are the major ways to achieve it. However, both strategies are targeted at humans. Today, more people are using virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana to find relevant pages on the internet. 2016 will be a year where more people will be focused on making sure that their business information is easily accessible to the assistants instead of targeting humans alone.

Desktop will give way to mobile

This year Google announced that mobile traffic finally overtook desktop traffic in more than 10 countries. Google also released the algorithm update that penalised sites not properly optimised for mobile. Interestingly, Google pointed out that running a mobile site without any desktop version is perfectly acceptable. This clearly shows there will be a shift towards catering for mobile traffic even, though the desktop will remain important.

Emergence of virtual reality

There are lots of VR devices slated to be released over the next few years. Many of them are targeted at the gaming public, but others are set to be used in a wide range of environments.  One of the most well-known VR devices today is the Oculus Rift and it is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2016. The device, and other similar ones, are expected to be integrated with video channels, direct messaging and social media. This will invariably lead to a new medium of online advertising. There are arguments that virtual reality will never really take off, but the smart money says it is an idea whose time has come.

Business owners across the world are always looking for an edge. They are constantly looking for ways to work faster, smarter and beat their competitors.

Most companies look at most aspects of their business, but they frequently fail to understand the impact that the workspace provided for their workforce has on productivity and creativity. This is a shame because studies show that placing people in the right work environment has a positive impact on how they perform.

These studies suggest that choosing the right workspace for your employees can make or break your business. Read on to find out what elements are most important.

The right location

Most business owners know that they need to locate themselves in the right area to attract customers. However, few of them realise that the location of their offices has a huge impact on how easy it is to attract the best employees.

A firm that is located in an out of the way or rough area will find it very hard to attract the best people. Employees may find it hard to get to work using public transport and will not have access to good facilities once there.

Nobody wants to be stranded on a small out of town industrial estate at lunchtime. Most people like to have the option to pop to the local cafe or run a few errands and do a little shopping. Locating yourself in an area with good access to transport, shops and restaurants makes your office a much more attractive proposition to potential employees.

Good internal design

Next on the list is internal design. Providing everyone with a well-lit workspace that they can easily keep at the right temperature is essential for productivity.  Easy access to restrooms, a small kitchen, meeting rooms and other facilities is also important. You don’t want people to waste time having to go to other floors for meetings or not being able to have a drink when they need one.

Other facilities

However, it is not enough to think only about the workspace you provide for your employees. You need to ensure that the other facilities your staff need are available.

Providing communal spaces where workers from different parts of your business can cross paths and build relationships can be very beneficial. Studies show that the majority of the best business ideas come about when workers from different areas of the business talk to each other casually, perhaps over a coffee or a canteen meal. Communal areas play an important role in how successful a firm is.

Where to find good quality office space

In most cities, there is plenty of commercial space available, so that is a good place to start your search. With the help of the right agent, you can easily find what your firm needs.

In London, if you are looking for good quality office space near Fenchurch Street is a good place to start your search. This area ticks all of the boxes it is well-connected, in an up and coming part of the city and the rents are very reasonable.

It may seem as if the games you enjoy online are merely distractions, but there is new evidence proving that you gain more than prizes when you play online games. Here are some of the benefits of online game play:

Increased hand-eye coordination

Online games require good vision skills to see what's on the screen, and precise hand movements to score points and navigate around games. The eyes and the hands must work together, but everyone is clumsy until they practice and improve their skills. Everyone from children to seniors benefits from developing better hand-eye coordination.

Online games help the home bound.

People who are stuck at home find online games a fun method to relearn rusty skills and hold off boredom. It's hard to feel lonely or distracted when you have plenty of online gaming friends and your choice of games to play. Seniors with limited mobility who formerly traveled and enjoyed visiting casinos will get a kick out of online games like those found at Free online games. They can hit those slot machines without leaving the comfort of home, and bring excitement back into their lives.

Game play increases memory capacity.

The more that people use their brains, the sharper their brains will be. Online gaming improves memory, because participants must remember rules, track progress, and recall various strategies to win. Good memory helps in school, on the job, and when doing your part to stay young in mind and spirit. Memory agility is also one of the key skills you need to learn everything from foreign languages to computer programming.

Free games help you start improving your skills.

Many online slot games are free to learn, and they often have great trial periods and exclusive memberships for devoted fans of online slot play. The graphics are exciting and realistic. You don't even notice how much you're learning while having so much fun.